That’s right, the secret ingredient for these vegan meatless ‘meatballs’ is vegetable juice pulp! (Specifically, carrot and beet juice pulp.)
We invested in a new juicer a few months ago and have since been juicing just about everything, but one thing we don’t love about juicers is the amount of perfectly usable pulp that’s left behind. We’ve been working on some creative ways to repurpose that pulp, one of which obviously includes these meatballs!
Some pulps are not quite as usable as others – we have yet to find a use for citrus or berry pulp (let us know if you have any ideas) – while others like beet pulp have been relatively easy to incorporate into recipes (we’re currently working on a beet pulp “red velvet” brownie recipe and thus far, it’s fantastic!!). Fibrous vegetable pulp, like that from carrot, beets and leafy greens, is ideal for a vegan rendition of meatballs because it’s not too moist and thus binds well.
Side note: if you often juice vegetables, a very simple use for carrot and other dog-friendly pulp is to simply add to your dog’s regular food. Both of our dogs go absolutely crazy for vegetables (weird, I know), so it’s a real treat for them. Be sure you’re well-versed on dog-friendly produce before you do this; some examples of toxic foods for dogs include tomatoes, grapes, avocado, some stone fruits, and rhubarb.
In addition to vegetable pulp, these ‘meatballs’ are full of nourishing plant-based ingredients, such as mushrooms, leeks, garlic, lentils, walnuts, nutritional yeast, and plenty of herbs and spices. We’ve also included the recipe for our homemade tomato sauce, which is a perfect complement to spaghetti and ‘meatballs’.
As we mentioned in our post the other day, we’ve been working on reducing our food waste this year, hence this recipe. We originally juiced carrots (and beets) for a cocktail recipe, and then used the carrot tops for this homemade vegan pesto, and then used the leftover carrot pulp for this recipe, so the entire bunch of carrots was used from root to stem. Of course, it’s not always easy or practical to do so, but it can be fun to challenge yourself to get the most out of your produce!
Please note that these most definitely work best when oven-baked. Although traditional meatballs are typically cooked over the stove, these tend to be a bit more fragile in their uncooked state and can thus fall apart when cooked in a pan. While the mushroom mixture adds an extra step to the recipe, it’s well worth the time spent. Mushrooms contribute that rich, umami flavor that helps mimic meatiness. The homemade tomato sauce is, of course, an optional addition – if you’re pressed on time, we recommend using your favorite store-bought version instead.Print
These meatless meatballs (what else are we supposed to call them – veggie balls?) are made with leftover vegetable juice pulp and served in a homemade tomato sauce.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 leek, washed very well and diced
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 flax eggs (For each egg: 1 tbsp flax meal to 2 tbsp water)
- 3/4 cup cooked lentils
- 1/2 cup carrot pulp
- 1/2 cup beet pulp
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 5 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (we used these chickpea breadcrumbs)
- 3 tbsp sweet rice flour
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp flax meal
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks of celery
- 2 carrots
- 3 26 oz canned or boxed whole tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley + 3 tbsp reserved for end
- 2 tbsp fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp agave syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 3 tbsp chopped parsley
- Heat oil over medium heat and sauté leek and garlic for 5-6 minutes or until translucent.
- To prep fennel, trim off the fennel stalks, cut in quarters, and remove any wilted outer layers. Slice thinly and add to pan with leek and garlic. Cook additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add mushrooms, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cook until fennel and mushrooms are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Spread pulp out on paper towel-lined tray to soak up some moisture while preparing the rest of your ingredients.
- Heat oven to 350 F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Cook lentils according to packaging and drain.
- Prepare flax eggs and let thicken for 15 minutes, stirring several times.
- Add all of ingredient, including the mushroom mixture, to food processor. Pulse several times and use a spatula to scrape down sides. Repeat this process as many times as needed until well mixed.
- Using a cookie scoop to ensure similar sizing, form into ‘meatballs’ and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they brown a little on bottom, harden on outside, and firm up in the middle.
- Heat olive oil in stock pot over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic, celery, and carrots and cook for 7-9 minutes, or until softened and translucent.
- Add all additional ingredients with exception of extra parsley. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45-50 min.
- Remove from heat and (carefully) transfer sauce to blender). Depending on the size of your blender, you may need to blend in two portions.
- Once well blended, return sauce to pan and add remaining 3 tbsp of fresh parsley.
- Add ‘meatballs’ to pan and lightly toss to coat. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta of choice.
If pressed on time, skip the homemade sauce and use your favorite store-bought version.